How to treat dog flu: Expert tips on how to spot symptoms of canine influenza
It's flu season for humans. Doctors are advising vaccination, with shots available at many local pharmacies and drug stores. But, what about your pup? Turns out dogs have their own flu season. And it's year round!
Canine Influenza is highly contagious and can be spread not only through the air but across surfaces like leashes and collars. In conversation with veterinarian Lisa Lippman, Director of Virtual Medicine at New York City's Bond Vet, we cover everything you need to know about "dog flu" from treatment to early signs.
What is "dog flu"?
Canine influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause your dog to get sick, materials from Bond Vet explain. Lippman describes it as very similar to the human flu, only without any real seasonality to it. It can happen at any time.
"It's really important to know where it's endemic," Lippman explains, urging pet owners to consult their veterinarian in order to find out the risk in their local area. Dogs who are in the agility or show circuit, and are therefore more likely to interact with lots of other dogs are also at a higher risk, she explains.
Just like humans with COVID, the more potentially infected individuals you are around the higher your likelihood is to get sick.
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What are the symptoms of dog flu?
Coughing and sneezing are some of the main symptoms of canine influenza, and also one of the main forms of transmission. In some cases your pup will run a fever.
A trip to the vet can help confirm a case as they will take your dog's temperature and possibly run chest x-rays and a PCR test. "It's always nice to know what we're dealing with," Lippman explains.
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Is there a vaccine for the canine flu?
Yes. There is a vaccine, Lippman reports, but it's not 100% effective. It can, however, help prevent your pet from contracting "dog flu" and potentially limit the severity of their illness.
How long does canine influenza last?
Materials from Bond Vet estimate that most dogs who get sick will usually recover within two to three weeks with the help of supportive care and antimicrobial treatments prescribed by your vet.
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Can canine flu spread to humans?
No, there is no evidence of that.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that, to date, no evidence exists of the spread of canine influenza viruses from dogs to humans. There has not been a single reported case of human infection from canine influenza worldwide.
Among dogs, however, the virus is highly infections, spreading mostly through aerosols Lippman reports, as dogs cough, bark, or sneeze near one another. On some occasions, canine influenza can also be spread through fomites. These are inanimate objects like leashes or collars that the virus can live on if there isn't sufficient disinfection.
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How do you treat dog flu?
"For any viral infection, we usually prescribe supportive care unless there's evidence of a secondary bacterial infection," Lippman explains, adding that she doesn't like to jump to antibiotics immediately if there's no need.
If your dog is energetic, eating well and otherwise themselves, then it isn't usually an emergency. You can treat their influenza by putting them in a bathroom and turning on the shower really hot to let the steam run over them for a few minutes at a time. Do this two to three times a day.
Though Lippman assures it is never wrong to go to the vet, canine influenza is so highly contagious that it is good to be cognizant of other pets and perhaps make a telehealth appointment instead.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How to treat dog flu: Tips, how to spot symptoms of canine influenza